CMAA Annual Meeting at UMass Lowell Innovation Hub

Ida Borin, Youth Program staff and Maddox Yang, Youth Program participant and dancer perform during the Annual Meeting. Photo supplied.

Lowell, MA — Wednesday June 22, Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell held its first in person annual meeting since the Covid-19 pandemic. The meeting marks 38 years of social services provided to the Cambodian community in Lowell. It was well attended by over 100 community members and stakeholders.

Over 100 community members and stakeholders attended the CMAA 2022 Annual Meeting at UML Innovation Hub. Photo Supplied.

Dany Chak, a client for the Wrap-Around Services shared her story. Dany said she is very grateful to have received a wide range of supportive services and emphasized the importance of the work that is being done there. “At CMAA, they have employees that are knowledgeable and willing to help when you go to them for assistance. They could help you with anything like applying for a green card renewal, citizenship, application for Mass ID, and health insurance. It does not matter who walks through the door, as long as you are seeking assistance, CMAA’s team will never say no and will try to help you no matter what.” Dany’s daughter, Srey, also spoke about the impact that the organization has on her life. Srey explained how her transition to the United States in 2013 was enhanced by the CMAA’s youth group, giving her a sense of community, which encouraged Srey to volunteer and eventually work for the organization and help other individuals in similar situations.

Photo of Staff with Board of Directors from left to right: Frank-McKenly Sokh, Board President in1984; Sothea Chiemruom, Executive Director; Seila Choup and Carolyn Walsh, Board Members; Nich Chea, Sreynuon Neang; Barbara Dunsford, Board Member; Hannah Phan, Leakhena Vong, Justin Ford, Sophia Sar, Melissa Sin, Camryn Skinner, Moeun Sok, Jennifer Soun, Kennis Yin-Mor, Hillary Soun, and Olivia Lau. Kneeling (l-r): Bopha Boutselis, Board Member; Tha Chhan, Board Vice President; Ida Borin, Vannak Theng, Current Board President. Photo supplied.

The Annual Meeting also featured a story from the Monorom Program. In the past, Leakhena Vong received assistance from CMAA for transportation, guardianship paperwork, and translation services. She now works as a manager for the program and provide these services to other community members.

The Youth Program, which consists of a summer program and an after-school program during the school year, giving Khmer children a safe and interactive learning experience where they can learn about Khmer culture, was also featured.

State Representative Vanna Howard. Photo from CMAA’s Facebook.

State Representative Vanna Howard from the 17th Middlesex district also spoke, “When I moved from Revere 31 years ago, two organizations were there for me. CTI (Community Teamwork) helped me with childcare and housing, and CMAA was there for me when I needed to adapt to a new culture and a new language.” Rep. Howard served 6 years as a CMAA board of directors, and she also gave credit to other organizations which help support CMAA in the past.

Sothea Chiemruom, CMAA Executive Director. Photo from CMAA’s Facebook.

“Today we are much stronger with your support and commitment to the growth, and stability of CMAA. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for Cambodian Americans and other minorities and economically disadvantaged persons in Lowell through educational, cultural, economic and social programs,” said Sothea Chiemruom, Executive Director of CMAA.

It was his first public meeting as the new Executive Director of CMAA after the departure of Sovanna Pouv. Chiemruom emphasized that the agency’s vision is to be financially more stable through innovative programming. In addition to the current services and the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, Chiemruom stressed that, “we will focus our priorities on strengthening and expanding the work of the Monorom Family Support Services, researching how CMAA can best support our community on the housing crisis issue, working with the Lowell Public Schools and the Greater Lowell Technical High School to engage, to listen, to support our young people and their families, to listen to the community’s needs, and cross generational needs.”

This article is contributed by Camryn Skinner and CMAA Staff and edited by Soben Ung.